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As Texas Tech students finish their second week of classes, there are changes to mailing services they may need to be aware of.

Students may have heard about delays in the United States Postal Service.

Ricardo Bello-Gomez, assistant professor in the Tech Department of Political Science, said while there is no need to panic, students should be aware of potential delays in service.

“The last couple of months, there have been some operational changes reducing operation costs at the U.S. Postal Service,” Bello-Gomez said. “Those changes have affected the efficiency of the operation and the quality of the service.”

Nearly 54 percent of Americans said they have experienced noticeable delays in sending or receiving mail or packages, according to The Harris Poll COVID-19 Tracker.

However, Henry Santos, unit manager of MailTech on campus, said he has not noticed any significant delays in mail arriving to campus.

Although, Santos said he does not regularly check timestamps.

MailTech is the official post office for the university, which handles all mail and packages that come to campus buildings and residence halls, Santos said. For the first two months of the term when students are back on campus, MailTech receives 1,000 packages per day.

“The process, it may be slowing down,” Santos said. “But we are still getting mail.”

The most important thing for students to know is if they need to leave the residence halls again in the instance the university has to close due to COVID-19, they need to change their address, Santos said.

“What we had trouble with last year was, when the kids got sent home from spring break, they still had mail that was coming here,” Santos said. “Which was nobody’s fault because they didn’t know they weren’t coming back. But it’s very important that the kids that are living in the residence halls do their mail-forwarding when they leave, so that way the mail that gets here, we can forward it back. Because if they don’t, we have to return it to the sender.”

Randilyn Saenz, a junior public relations major from Three Rivers, said she has personally experienced delays when trying to send a package through the USPS.

“I mailed a package on the 21st of August, and it’s now Sept. 1, so it is over a week late to arriving when it was supposed to, and that is not something I anticipated,” Saenz said. “I didn’t think that the delays were as far-spread as packages.”

Saenz heard about the changes to the USPS in terms of the election and voting by mail, but she did not realize the delays were affecting mail other than ballots, which is why she did not anticipate a delay, she said.

These delays are the result of newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy attempting to maximize efficiency and decrease operating costs, Bello-Gomez said. While financial discretion is important, he said public services, such as the postal service, have to consider other responsibilities.

“There is an interesting clash between different values that a public agency should consider,” Bello-Gomez said. “On one side, you have the side of efficiency. On the other side, you have the side of democratic values in general.”

In the case of the post office, Bello-Gomez said they are required to provide universal service, which other private mailing services are not. This is part of a larger debate over what services are considered public and need the government to be involved versus those that should be left to the free market.

Since the post office is required by the Constitution, Bello-Gomez said, that implies it is meant to be a public service. He said that shows having access to a universal and affordable mailing system is necessary to the democratic values of the nation and the rights of its citizens.

While the delays are likely to worry some students, Santos said the Copy/Mail Center in the Student Union Building can handle a large volume of mail, and any mail dropped off there as late as 3:30 p.m. will go out the same day.

If students are concerned about sending or receiving a package on time, Santos said the best way to ensure timeliness is to use Priority or First-Class mail.

For more information on postal services the university offers, visit the Copy/Mail page on the Student Union Building website.

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